Monday, April 05, 2010

The Master Of Lunacy FFF #27

Four words: Cache, Cashew, Eschew, & Through.

"Oh God, oh God, oh God," Mr. Burlington frantically thought as he followed the orderly down the bright salmon colored hallway, "Please let me be sane! Or at least be able to convince Dr. Shaw!" The orderly ushered him into the wood paneled office and asked him to take a seat and the doctor would be right with him.

Burlington sat in the overstuffed leather chair across from the large desk and waited. He stared out the window at a walnut tree and the two chickadees that were flitting through it. They seemed to be in love. There was a nest they were building on the nearest bow. He tried to relax and watch them construct their new home to clear his mind, but he just couldn't sit still. He walked to the window to take a closer look, but the birds flew away.

He looked around the room for something to distract himself as the doctor was taking an awfully long time. The room was sparse and the only picture was a still life of a bowl of fruit. Burlington noticed that they were all bananas. There was the empty desk, two leather chairs, and a small bookshelf with a dictionary, medical encyclopedias, and a couple of back issues of American Psychology. The only thing that showed that this wasn't a disused room was a large bowl of cashews placed in the center of the desk. Burlington absentmindedly munched a couple from the doctor's cache and stared out the window to see if the chickadees would return. He tried to think of nothing.

"Ah, I see you've found my nuts," said the man who shuffled through the door behind him. Burlington gulped hard and wished he had some water to wash down his mouthful of salty cashews. The man was dressed in the same terry clothe robe and standard issue pajamas as he was.

"Where is Dr. Shaw?" Burlington asked. The cashews stuck to the back of his dry throat as his palms began to sweat.

The man flashed a comforting smile. "Dr. Shaw has been detained. I am Dr. Breedlove and I will be filling in for him. Please sit down Mr.-" he consulted the file folder in his hand, "Mr. Burlington, and let's get started. This is a simple evaluation and only takes a few minutes. Make yourself comfortable."

Burlington sat and watched as the robed man took his seat across the desk from him. "You are dressed like I am. Is that common?" Burlington asked.

"It is a new policy of the hospital. The doctors and staff are to dress as the patients so that there is more of a bonding and less friction with an authority figure. In short, we eschew formality. Dr. Brown of the California Institute of Psychology has had great success with this measure," Breedlove explained as he sat and flipped through the folder without looking up.

"Are you the Master of Lunacy? Are you the one to decide if I'm sane?" Burlington wished his voice wouldn't have cracked as he said this but he couldn't take it back now.

"They don't call this post the Master of Lunacy anymore. I am the acting Director of Admissions. Up until now, you have been fulfilling your court-ordered mandate to seek psychiatric care. We just need to know if you need more care or not. Let's get started, shall we?" Breedlove returned to his comforting smile. "I will ask you a few questions, and reaction time is a factor in this, but respond truthfully and we will be done in minutes." Breedlove let his eyes bore into his as if he was trying to see his brain through his eye sockets.

"Do you feel the hospital has been a help to you?" he asked.

"Oh sure," Burlington felt he was on easy ground here, "The staff are ever so nice, and the fresh fruit and enemas have done wonders. I feel like I am a whole new man! I especially enjoyed the group sessions as it let me know that I wasn't alone in this. I was facing my troubles head on and helping others with theirs too. Mrs. Abood was a great moderator and I think I've learned a lot about myself and others." Without any effort at all, his prepared speech came out.

Breedlove check marked a few boxes on the top paper and returned to his piercing glare. "What will you do if you return to society?" he asked.

"My brother has a moving company and has promised to take me on full time. Mrs. Sekorskey has kept my apartment these eight months, so I have a place to stay." The lump of cashews moved a little further down his parched throat but his tongue felt like it was covered in a thick layer of salt. He felt a cold trickle of sweat slide from his underarm down his ribcage but tried to ignore it.

"We are almost done Mr. Burlington. I just have a few more questions," Breedlove reassured him. He placed an eight by ten card on the table with a smear of ink on it. "What does this look like to you?" he asked.

"An ink blot," Burlington answered bluntly.

"No, no, no. Do you see a picture?"

"It looks like someone dropped a plate of spaghetti."

"And this?"

"A bath tub."

"And this one?"

"John Cleese."

Breedlove scribbled a few more notes and shut the folder with a snap. He handed Burlington a piece of paper with an official looking seal. "Mr. Burlington," he sighed, "you are as sane as I am. Show this to the orderly and go collect your things. There is a cab waiting at the front door to return you to your home. The best of luck to you, and should you need help in the future, don't hesitate to call." Breedlove shook his hand warmly and opened the door to send him on his way into the wide world with the honest hope that everything would come up roses for the young man.

Breedlove chewed a few nuts while watching from the office window as the cab pulled away. When it had disappeared from sight, he noticed the chickadees in the tree as they returned and padded their nest.

He turned from the window and slipped the file into an empty drawer. "Now for Dr. Shaw," he thought as he returned to the janitor's closet where his hostage was tied up with bed sheets. "I need a few new ink blots in blood," he thought, and reached for a sharp chisel and some paper. Dr. Shaw was wide-eyed as he struggled against his bonds and he tried to scream against his gag, but to no avail.



  1. I had a feeling Dr Breedlove wasn't all he cracked up to be! But I was on tenterhooks to see whether Burlington would make it out alive.

    Excellent and quirky :-)

  2. oooooh, beautifully creepy! It definitely plays on the distinct feeling of unease that builds as we read this.

    I love how you have named the hapless victim after yourself!

  3. Now that was a crazy gig, and one can never go wrong with crazy, it's the sober way to be.

  4. Sue H- To make Breedlove insane too was a thought that occurred half way through writing this. I had already scrapped two other story ideas before I got to this one. It was inspired by a Peter O'Toole movie called "The Ruling Class".

    BB- Whenever my stories call for a doctor, I use my own name as I can't be bothered to think up a new one. Most of my readers only know me as Doc and I rarely use my real name on anything. I'm tickled you got the inside joke. I think I will include "beautifully creepy" on my resume from now on. Thanks for dropping by.

    Randal- But crazy and intoxicated is even more fun! Just ask the guy in the picture, as a large bottle of beer is the only thing covering his manhood.


  5. Doc, this is one of my favourites of yours. Enjoyed this immensely!

    An ink-blot that looked like John Cleese? Fantastic, and the line "Ah, I see you've found my nuts,"...cracked me up, but not for the cashews!!!

  6. Crybbe666- I threw that in along with the still life that was nothing but bananas to imply madness in a funny way. I couldn't seem to work in crackers though.


  7. Long time readers of my fiction will notice that I treat names very carefully. I feel a name of a character has to truely fit them in one of two ways. It must give the reader an immediate insight into their character such as: a woman named Candy is a harlot, a man named Norman is something of a nerd or a square, Smitty is a good bloke, and Dick or Dickie is a jerk, etc.

    By the same token, a name can also reflect a side of a person's character that isn't obvious. A man named Payne could be merciful. A woman named Agnes could be a closet hussy instead of a prude.

    I often include the names of my readers, as who doesn't like to see their name in print? The Dr. Brown in my story pays homage to our dear Cormac and I use it often to thank him for his hard work in keeping FFF alive and well. Randal has appeared several times and is often used for a loveable rogue. The rest of you can expect to see yourselves appear as we work our way through more of these and I hope to do you justice.

    And if I need a doctor, you know I have to throw myself in the mix.


  8. A great, fun piece of writing agin, Doc. You never seem to fail. Really well done. Although, I have to say my dad's name is Norman. It's his middle name and his first name is John. But, there is a story as to why he uses his middle name, Norman, but I can't quite remember. Something to do with him being a mercenary in his younger years. Certainly not nerdish. ;-)

    Regards mate, David.


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